I’m an experienced MC and keynote speaker, with a proven ability to engage an audience, break down complex psychological information into simple concepts, and impart knowledge through storytelling.

I regularly share my knowledge of the art and craft of speaking as a form of Useful Communication. As MC of TEDxWellington, I’ve been instrumental in the development of the speaker coaching programme, teaching TEDx speakers how to shape the narrative of a story and take the audience on a journey.

Recent speaking engagements include:

  • MC – Work In Progress Conference, Wellington, 2019
  • MC – TEDxWellington
  • Speaker, Nanogirl’s Virtual Summit 2020
  • Speaker, GovTech Accelerator Bootcamp, 2018
  • Keynote speaker – Science Communicators Association of New Zealand Conference, 2019
  • Keynote speaker – Speaking With Purpose 2017
  • Keynote speaker – Disaster and Emergency Management Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, 2016

I am available for speaking engagements on a range of topics including:

  • Useful psychology – Tips, tools and strategies to live well with uncertainty, get through any crisis and take care of your mental wellbeing
  • Disaster response – Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of frontline workers during an acute or extended crisis
  • Effective communication for leaders – How to get your message heard, engage your people and find common purpose so you can move forward together
  • Psychology and the workplace – Enhancing productivity, unlocking your potential and leveraging your strengths.
  • Parenting – Supporting ourselves and our children through difficult times and periods of change
  • Speaking and storytelling – how to discover the art of listening, engage an audience, tell better stories and take your audience on a journey

For more information or to discuss your MC, speaker, or panellist needs, please contact me

Sarb’s contribution as MC of TEDxWellington has been a gift beyond measure. From his deep influence on our speaker coaching programme, to his masterful delivery and his skill in guiding audiences through an experience, Sarb makes the event so much richer. His contribution elevates the overall professionalism of the day and has created a positive legacy and future expectation of a high quality event.

Sarb’s well-received speaking workshops cultivate trust, build relationships and amplify the overall programme. I have learned so much from him about influencing the narrative understanding and the psychological aspects of controlling nerves for speakers. When I grow up, I want to be Sarb Johal!


I’m a frequent guest and commentator on radio, television and in print media, sharing an expert psychological perspective on breaking news, as well as practical tips to support mental health and wellbeing, parenting, getting through a crisis and communication. My work has appeared in The Guardian, BBC World News, Al-Jazeera, The Project on TV3 and The Spinoff, as well as countless online and print publications.

I regularly appear on Radio New Zealand National, both as a parenting commentator on Nine to Noon, and as a guest on The Panel to discuss the issues of the day, ranging from the Covid-19 response, to the psychological impact of traumatic events, and strategies for mental wellness.

I’m the co-host and joint creator of Eating Fried Chicken In the Shower, a Radio New Zealand podcast about mental health, headspace and happiness. Eating Fried Chicken was a finalist for both Best Entertainment Podcast at the 2020 NZ Radio Awards, and Best Episodic Podcast at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards.

I’ve also created my own podcasts, hosting two seasons of Who Cares, What’s the Point?, where I interviewed researchers publishing game-changing research about why humans behave the way we do, and exploring the practical implications. I also hosted one season of Thanks for Calling- a series of bite-sized episodes offering tips for greater mental wellbeing.

Finally, I host two YouTube channels – The Useful Psychologist, and Useful Tech, where I explore my fascination with mobile and 360 video and photography, offering tips, recommendations and product reviews.

To find out more about media appearances or to discuss your breaking news story please contact me

The Science Media Centre has worked with Sarb for many years, often calling on his expertise on breaking news topics, such as the Kaikōura earthquakes, the Christchurch mosque shootings and COVID-19. Sarb’s background as a clinical psychologist and his expertise in disaster psychology has proved invaluable on these topics.

The journalists we work with are often looking for someone who can add an additional perspective to their stories, and Sarb has proven himself to be a reliable ‘go-to’ expert on psychology-related topics. His willingness to lend his expertise on a range of topics makes him valuable as an expert commentator and someone we readily recommend to journalists.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sarb has played a valuable role in our expert panel bringing insight and ideas to the wider group we have been working with. His compassion and empathy are particularly appreciated by the SMC team.

“A clinical psychologist, Dr Sarb Johal, who had done a lot of prior work on the H1N1 influenza outbreak in the UK, and then helping communities in New Zealand recover from earthquakes, has been really helpful to us. He says that the most important thing you can do is have empathy. Whatever you do, you must try to be empathetic and helpful in your design work and the language you put into it. All people really want to know is what’s the right thing to do, whether they’re doing it, and if it is working.”